Good buffer stock, farm prices needed for pulses: CEA’s report

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) To ensure adequate supply of pulses at fair prices, India must use a combination of comfortable buffer stock, remunerative farm prices and a pro-active import policy, a government report said on Friday.

Authored by a committee led by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian to promote pulses cultivation, the report recommended that the government procure pulses sown in the monsoon season, without any time-lag from farmers and the setting up of a new body in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode to manage the procured stocks.

“Raise MSP (minimum support price) on winter pulses, and build up 2 million tonnes of pulses stock with targets for individual pulses,” the report said.

“The report recommends an MSP of Rs 40 per kg for rabi (season) gram, compared to the current Rs 31-32 per kg,” Subramanian told reporters here presenting the report.

“Ramping-up MSP and procurement are fundamental ways to ramp up production,” he said.

The report also suggested an MSP of Rs 60 per kg for urad and tur for the kharif season 2017, as well as the lifting of export bans on pulses and removing stock limits on wholesale trade.

Prices of these pulses had touched Rs 200 a kg in July this year, prompting the government to set up a committee under the CEA to frame a long-term policy for the crops.

“We want to prevent prices from going down too much for farmers, because depressed prices will affect production in the next season. So we recommend higher MSPs to be backed up by procurement,” Subramanian said.

“If these practices are followed, India should be self-sufficient in pulses in 4-5 years,” he added.

Noting that he had heard about the government target of a 2 million tonne pulses buffer stock, Subramanian said that with “moong” arrivals, prices have started declining and in some cases have even gone below MSP.

“We need targets for individual pulses, more so for pulses like tur, which is not so readily available for import,” he said.

The CEA released the report in the presence of Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

Meanwhile at a meeting here on Thursday, Paswan reviewed the availability of pulses in the country and urged importers to maintain transparency in the matter, a ministry source said.

“There is a need for the importers of pulses to be more transparent in their operations. There is a need for the government and the traders to work closely,” Paswan said at a meeting here with senior officials and importers.

Officials from various enforcement agencies also attended the meeting, that was held in the backdrop of a drop in the prices of almost all pulses for over a month.

“There was a silent acceptance by the representatives from various associations of pulses trade that the unprecedented price of pulses last year was due to speculation and hoarding,” an official release here said.

–IANS

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